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Like in most jurisdictions, Scotland has a period of time within which a court action must be commenced. Instead of being called “Limitation” or the “Limitation Period”, in Scotland, it is referred to as “Prescription”, “Time Bar” or the “Prescriptive Period”.

The General Rule:

Contract Claim 5 Years The Prescriptive Period runs from the date in which the Pursuer (Claimant) suffers the loss/damage.

In regard to cases of latent loss, the courts have interpreted this as the date at which the claimant became or could have reasonably been aware that they had suffered a loss. In some cases, this has been given a stringent interpretation by the courts which have held that the Prescriptive Period started running from the date that “expenditure” was occurred in relation to the wrong. For example, in a professional negligence claim, the Prescriptive Period has been held to start running from the date of the payment of the fee for the work that later turned out to be negligent.
Claim in delict (Tort), e.g. Professional Negligence Claims 5 Years


Some Common Exceptions:

Personal Injury 3 Years
Medical Negligence 3 Years
Defamation 3 Years
Harassment 3 Years
Product Liability 10 Years


In Scotland, Standstill Agreements do not stop prescription from running. The primary method to stop the clock from ticking on Prescription is to raise a claim in the relevant court.

The Prescription (Scotland) Act 2018 obtained Royal Assent on 18 December 2018 and will change the way prescription operates in Scotland. It is not yet in force; however, we will update this guide when it comes into effect.


Delighted to Help

At MBM, we advise other law firms and their clients on prescription regularly. We can offer you clear and concise advice on any prescription issues concerning a potential Scottish claim. We won’t sit on the fence, and the advice will be definitive. 

Quick Guides

A Guide to Limitation in Scotland

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